People who may be involved during and after the diagnosis is made
Paediatricians are doctors who have completed additional medical training to become specialists in supporting children. The paediatrician is ultimately responsible for making a formal diagnosis, so is often involved quite heavily in the initial stages. They are also responsible for medication prescription and management.
Speech and Language Therapists (SALT)
Speech therapists are specialists in speech, language and communication. Their role is much broader than just supporting speech pronunciation difficulties or lisps. They have expertise in listening, speaking and social communication. They can be a huge help to children who struggle with understand social interactions.
Occupational Therapist (OT)
Occupational therapists (OTs) have expertise in both physical and mental health. They help people of all ages overcome the effects of impairments caused by illness, ageing or accident so that they can be independent with everyday tasks. In the classroom, they can help with functional skills, like handwriting, using scissors or participating in PE. At home they support skills like dressing, feeding and toileting. OTs will also provide equipment like specialist seating, wheelchairs and hand splints.
Physiotherapists support physical development, especially walking and balance. They will likely be involved if a child has severe hypermobility.
Educational Psychologist (EP)
Educational psychologists are the experts in cognition and learning, with a focus on education. They can make recommendations for reading and learning supports. They can diagnose dyslexia and other specific learning disorders.
Clinical psychologists can also provide recommendations and supports for specific learning disorders. In addition, they can assess for a broader range of needs than educational psychologists, such as autism and ADHD. They can also provide counselling and additional family support.
Social Workers (SW)
Social workers provide family support and access to additional care resources. Typically there are different teams with different specialities. One team may focus on child protection and another on access to care resources. Some children may have more than one social worker.
Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO)
Also sometimes called a SENDCO, with the ‘D’ standing for disability and occasionally written as ASNCO standing for Additional Support Needs Coordinator. This is a specific role within schools designated to helping students with additional needs. The SENCO will be responsible for maintaining the additional needs register. They will have completed additional training and have more expertise in supporting children with additional needs. They typically support staff in school to meet the needs of their students.
Specialist Teaching Services (STS)
In the UK, the specialist teaching service is run by the Local Authority. These teachers have specialised in specific areas of disability and provide guidance and support into mainstream schools. Typically, there is a teacher for autism, physical disabilities, and sensory impairments like vision and hearing loss. However, the team set up varies in each area.
If your child is not yet school aged, in the UK there is a service called portage. The service comes from the Local Authority and is designed to help set up the right supports for your child at home before they start school. The portage service should also be able to help guide you with decision making for schools.